The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Month: May 2016

That’s all, folks

I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what I was walking into when I accepted this position a year ago. Sure, I had worked for the Student since freshmen year. And yes, despite all the pushback when I told people I wanted to be a journalist, I still was holding out hope for the industry. And one confession: I wanted to be Rory Gilmore since I was 12 and I refuse to give up that dream. On a serious note, however, I had no clue I would be dealing with retractions, advertising nightmares, ethical concerns, inflated egos and downright distasteful submissions.

A quote that’s gotten me through this year has been, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” It isn’t always easy in a position where people don’t always agree with what you publish or what you say. If I could leave you with some words of wisdom though, it’s figure out what you value, but also know when those values should, and will, be challenged. That’s where the growth and learning happen.

For instance, in light of a surge in student activism at colleges across the country, and in the midst of a frightening presidential election marked by hateful, ignorant discourse, I found my previous, rose-colored understanding of freedom of speech and political correctness challenged.

Or rather, this past year with The Student has taught me that no matter how hard you push people to listen or reason with those they disagree with, sometimes people just don’t listen. And sometimes, you need to accept that you’re not always right, or that things change and you need to be open to those changes.

But those of you who kid yourselves and think you can launch a vendetta against a movement you disagree with, or resort to belligerent name calling and raging rants in an effort to get some likes on a Facebook post, well then, I’m not sure how much you have to offer. Little growth happens when you cater to only the closed-minded.

Despite feeling like I was just trying to keep my head above water half of the time, I’m proud of what The Student has accomplished this year. We covered local elections and inserted our voice into national conversations about campus PC culture. The Sports editors did phenomenal investigative work into the hiring and firing of coaches, the history of the NESCAC, and the international presence on the squash team. We were administrative watchdogs (when we needed to be) and we served as a platform to celebrate the artistic talent of the Bates community. And we took some kick-ass photos (but shout-out to Phyllis Graber Jensen for saving us on numerous occasions).

I could go on and on (no one’s ever called me humble) but if I could leave you with a final tidbit of advice, it would be to write for The Bates Student. Kidding! You should, but seriously: have a little faith in yourself and the people on this campus. Four years is too short of a time to dislike people over petty grievances or ideological differences. You’re missing out if you don’t take a class because you had one bad experience with the professor, or if you don’t participate in a club because that kid from your FYS is the president and you didn’t get along. And don’t let people dissuade you from doing what you really want. At the risk of sounding sappy, if Bates has taught me anything, it’s that the door is never shut for good—you just have to keep knocking.

Women’s lacrosse drops NESCAC semifinal to Trinity

Though Bates women’s lacrosse saw their season end in a 14-3 loss to top NESCAC seed Trinity in the conference semifinals, the Bobcats finished an incredible year with a 12-5 record and the second-most wins in program history, only behind the 1992 Bates team’s 14. The team also secured a spot on the NCAA Division III tournament.

Against Trinity, Bates never managed to take a lead, trailing 8-2 at halftime and never seriously threatening the Bantams. Despite that disappointing finish, Bates put together their best season in over 20 years thanks to the excellent play of attacker Moriah Greenstein ’16, goalie Hannah Jeffrey ’16, and a solid supporting cast. Greenstein concluded an outstanding Bates career with a 47-goal, 27-assist season, leading the team in both categories. Six other Bates players scored 10 or more goals, including senior Emma Brinkman and sophomore Allison Dewey (16 goals). Jeffrey recorded 143 saves (at a 58.1 save percentage) and allowed only 6.37 goals per game.

Bates started the season on fire, winning their first six games and narrowly dropping their first matchup against Trinity, 6-5. After an 8-6 loss at home to Colby in the regular season finale, the Bobcats beat the Mules 9-3 in the NESCAC quarterfinals, Greenstein topping the team with three goals.

It will be a challenge for Bates to replicate this season’s success next year, as they will lose several key seniors to graduation, including Brinkman, Greenstein, Jeffrey, Alex Briody, Cara Cappellini, and Kara Le, all of whom started every game this year.

 

Track and Field compete at New England Division III Outdoor Championships

It was an eventful and successful weekend for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams down in Springfield, Massachusetts for the New England Division III Outdoor Championships. The men preformed especially well, placing second while the women also did well, coming in 11th.

First, on the men’s side, shot putter and senior Nick Margitza along with fellow teammate and sophomore Adedire Fakorede paced the team, leading the way to 69 points putting them just behind MIT. Margitza won the NED3 shot put title for the second straight year while Fakorede took first place in the discus.

In the decathlon, senior Jack Aherne, sophomore Tyler Post, and junior Blake Downey all preformed admirably. Aherne placed fifth with 5,465 points while Post and Downey finished in seventh and eighth respectively. With his performance, Aherne qualified for Open New Englands.

For the women, junior Allison Hill won the 100-meter hurdles title and again broke her own record in the process, helping Bates secure the 11th place finish. Fellow teammate and senior Isabelle Unger placed fifth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and sophomore Srishti Sunil finished eight in the triple jump.

Overall, one of the highlights of the weekend for the women’s squad was sophomore Katherine Cook’s performance in her 10,000-meter run debut. As a result, she became Bates’ third-fastest runner ever.

Up next, members of both teams will compete at the all-divisions Open New England Championships on May 13th and 14th.

 

Take a stand against racism

On Sunday, May 1st, the fifth annual Stand Against Racism workshop took place at the YWCA in Lewiston, ME. This year’s event focused primarily on females of color.

The event began at 12:30 with a keynote address by Shay Stewart-Bouley, the executive director of Community Change, Inc., a 48 year-old Boston-based organization fighting racism. Stewart-Bouley is also the author of the blog, Black Girl in Maine.

Moving from Chicago to Maine in 2002, Stewart-Bouley explained, felt like moving to another planet. What started out as a joke, her blog became a way for her to deal with the frustration she felt on account of her race, gender and geographical location. Living in Saco, Maine, days would pass without her seeing another person of color.

Stewart-Bouley started her address with two sobering statistics: black girls are suspended six-times more often than white girls are and black boys are suspended three times more often than white boys are. Although there is clearly still racial inequity in this country, Stewart-Bouley explained that many people do not have the language to talk about race and racism. She feels that the intersection between race and gender is imperative to discuss and that girls and women of color face very different realities than other groups do.

Following her short introduction, Stewart-Bouley sat down alongside a group of Lewiston High School’s 21st Century Leaders and engaged in a moderated discussion. The 21st Century Leaders is a fifty-student group that meets weekly to develop leadership skills and to mentor elementary students at Lewiston’s Longley Elementary School. This year the group also conducted a year long research project on school disciplinary policies in the Lewiston School District, urging the administration to move from punitive policies to more restorative practices.

The 21st Century Leaders on the panel were all black Muslim girls. Throughout the discussion, which consisted of a question-and-answer dialogue within the panel and with the audience, the girls revealed their experiences with racism. One such anecdote a student disclosed occurred when she was walking down a Lewiston street, minding her own business, when a white adult male yelled at her to “go back to her country.” Other girls said that people are skeptical when they say they are from Lewiston, even though they were born here.

Another powerful and emotional incident was one that Stewart-Bouley herself recounted. She was in the car driving at night in Chicago with her then husband, a white man. They were pulled over by a cop, which she assumed was for random inspection. But, it soon became clear to her that the policeman had other assumptions. He thought she was a sex worker, even after her husband introduced her as his wife. This event profoundly changed the way she saw herself, and still affects her more than twenty years later. She feels self-conscious about what she wears and how she presents herself, trying hard not to live up to stereotypes. This incident even affects how she parents her daughter.

When asked whether racism is based on one’s culture or color, Stewart-Bouley replied that racism is based on a culture of discrimination. According to her, there is a dominant culture in this country that black people are just not a part of.

The girls also asked Stewart-Bouley what she thinks they should do if they experience racism in school. She said “no one has to fix a problem they did not create.” She then explained that every teacher in Maine should have anti-racism training so that they are adept at handling those types of situations. Applause erupted. And after the keynote address and the moderated discussion, Stewart-Bouley received a standing ovation.

At 1:30 p.m., workshops were led by the Neighborhood Housing League, the Lewiston High School (LHS) Civil Rights Team, the LHS 21st Century Leaders and the Southern Maine Workers’ Center. They presented on such topics as racial justice and its relation to housing conditions, the school to prison pipeline, access testing, and redistricting. Another workshop discussed the role of white people in creating an anti-racist future and another allowed participants to interact with members of the Muslim community and to try on a hijab.

The day ended with an anti-racism march through the neighborhood and an official stand in front of the YWCA.

In closing, Stewart-Bouley addressed white people specifically: “You have to do this [anti-racism] work in your own communities and be relentless in that work.”

 

Governor LePage holds town hall in Lewiston, Bates students protest

Lewistonites, Auburnians, and others from the surrounding area packed into an event space in the Lewiston Ramada this past Wednesday as Maine Governor Paul LePage held a town hall meeting. As one of a series of weekly town hall meetings held around the state, LePage fielded questions from his constituents for just under an hour and a half.

According to Peter Steele, LePage’s director of communications, the governor uses these meetings as a means of communicating his platform to his constituents without the threat of media bias. Steele added that the governor “isn’t asking people to agree with him, just to hear what he has to say.”

While introducing the governor, Press Secretary Adrienne Bennett expressed her and the governor’s desire “to have an open dialogue,” adding only one request: “that we all be open-minded and civil.”

These requests for open-mindedness, civility, and the willingness to hear the governor out were repeated like mantras by both LePage and his aides throughout the evening. At several moments during the meeting, Governor LePage repeatedly referenced his treatment by the media, arguing that they had failed to make good on the same requests he and his camp were making of the crowd. This reasoning was also used in response to a group of Bates students who, about fifteen minutes into the meeting, revealed signs reading “LePage: Maine’s Shame.” Then they voluntarily exited the event. “I hope you’re not Bates kids,” Lepage responded. “You’re giving the U.S. a bad name.”

Before taking questions from the crowd, the governor first gave what he described as “a quick overview of the state moving forward,” speaking on various topics important to Maine’s future. The first issue Governor LePage spoke on was the proposed minimum wage increase which will appear on Mainers’ ballots this coming November. LePage called the increase “detrimental” to the state, elaborating that “I don’t support a minimum wage, I support a living wage. I know poverty, the way out of poverty isn’t through a minimum wage, it’s through education.”

A few minutes later, the governor shifted his criticism to another 2016 Maine ballot initiative: a three percent surcharge on the income of any Mainer making more than $200,000 dollars per year, to be put towards funding the state’s education system. LePage stated his opposition to the initiative, calling it “an insult” to “people who are successful.”

The governor then shifted from the proposed initiative to Maine’s tax rates in general, arguing that they were too high to benefit Mainers. Central to LePage’s argument against higher tax rates was the notion that the people know how to spend their money better than the government does, and referenced other states like Florida, New Hampshire, and Texas, whose tax models he argued Maine should follow. “Elected officials shouldn’t try to tax you more, they should put more money in your pocket.”

Once the governor had said his piece on these issues, he opened the floor to answer questions from the audience, all of which were screened first by Bennett. This part of the meeting constituted the bulk of it. Governor LePage even stayed almost half an hour longer than he was scheduled to. Those who asked questions came from a relatively diverse background, from hardcore conservatives to one shop owner who identified himself as “very liberal.”

The meeting was not without conflict, however. After the protest by Bates students, LePage remarked on several occasions throughout the rest of the event that Bates students are “wealthy kids” who “don’t know what it means to work.” When one liberal constituent started off his question by stating that “even though I didn’t vote for you, you are my governor,” LePage cut him off, replying, “No I’m not.” The governor’s response to both these criticisms was the same: “America is a great country because you can make your own opinions, but you cannot make your own facts.”

 

SAVAC brings sexual assualt to the forefront

One Thursday evening in the Little Room of Chase Hall, there began an event meant to throw light across a subject too dark to discuss anywhere but in a basement. But that’s incorrect. Sexual assault, or broadly any form of directed abuse in the context of human relations, is not something to sweep behind couches and discuss behind closed doors away from other ears. It is meant to be exposed and treated as injury and trespass.

The event in question was an expose sponsored and organized by the newly formed Sexual Assault and Violence Advocacy Club (SAVAC), a group entirely committed to violence awareness and illumination. This expose was the group’s first event and an impressive beginning to the club’s history.

Inside the Little Room, all was prepared for a mixed media show. On a wall there was tacked artwork, visualizing the themes of the night. There was a large dance floor which was to be occupied by various performances. Set about on chairs and tables were questions and queries surrounding the issues to be discussed and confronted, like “How do you talk to a survivor?” The whole design of the event was meant to inspire thought and dialogue around an issue with such weighty overhead but with a tendency to disappear in public forum. Those agitated and triggered were given a space behind the expose in a back room known as the “self-care station.” There, shaken nerves could steady themselves through mending chatter with trained listeners. There was also a collection of essential oils,to rub into the skin and ease away anxiety. SAVAC had thought of everything, including a safety net for those too quickened by the content.

The whole event began with punctuation. The emcees, co-presidents Charlotte Cramer and Ceri Kurtz of SAVAC, began with a warning regarding the substance and theme of the event to begin. The expose was a mix of spoken word, monologue, dance rendition and musical performance. Very notable was the appearance of TakeNote, one of the many a capella groups on campus.

After about two spoken word events, I noticed a large effuse of people just within the entrance of the Little Room. There was not enough seating and the crowd stood about the room, stretching over heads and leaning into walls for a look of the performances. It was reassuring to see so many people at least sympathetic to the cause. That being said, the crowd was mostly female, something I expected and something the event coordinators were probably expecting just as well. Still, the disparity was there, another reminder of how much work there was to be done.

I had a chat with Peter Boyer, a first-year football player and dedicated musician, how he felt about performing in the context of the expose.

“It was enlightening to be in a room filled with people that cared,” he said regarding his performance: an acoustic cover of “Love in the Dark” by Adele, performed alongside the vocals of another first-year, Kelly McDonald. I had my own poetry read aloud at the event and I too felt reassured by the fact that that the viewing audience might take our messages to heart.

In the end, we were thanked for coming and giving our attention. Past our exits, we are expected to hold our learnings to faith and live, if only slightly, with more consciousness to what goes on below and between. Past that night of confession, confusion and abstraction, there lingers the damage done and the dawning hope of reconciliation. It was a truly touching place to be.

 

Green ogres and fairytale creatures sing their way to Schaeffer Theatre

Cast of Shrek prepares for the opening show. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

W ith only a few weeks left in the school year, there is one last theater production in the works: Shrek the Musical. From practicing fake falls, to perfecting the burping and farting scene, to putting together the unusual costumes, everyone involved in the musical has been extremely busy since the first day of Short Term in preparation for the opening on May 17.

Seniors Sam Myers and Colette Girardin are co-directors of this production. They’ve been involved in theater at Bates for multiple years, and they are coming together to direct one last show before they graduate.

Fergus Scott ’17 plays the lead role of Shrek. Not only is he a talented actor and singer as we all know from his numerous Man Ops solos, but his castmates also claim that his killer Scottish accent tops off his character.

Emily Tan ’19 plays Scott’s counterpart, Fiona. This is the first theater production she’s been involved in at Bates, and she raves about all aspects of the experience from the hard work of the cast to the leadership of the directors. She went on to say, “I’m constantly stunned by how quickly and efficiently the directors and stage managers are able to get things done. They make the show look so good in such a short period of time.”

According to the actors themselves, the minimal amount of time they’ve had to prepare has brought them together as a cast and as a group of friends. Scott emphasized that “one of the most enjoyable aspects of working on any musical is the camaraderie of the cast and the friendships that inevitably form as a result of working so intensely on a collaborative project.” They’ve spent copious amounts of time together over these last few weeks working on the show and getting to know each other, which will definitely reflect positively in their performances.

The costume designers, who have a particularly tricky job in a production filled with green ogres, princes and donkeys are right on track and have it all figured out. Tan said, “we are renting a bunch of costumes from the Portland Players, who have previously performed Shrek.” This makes costume designing a lot simpler and less time consuming, which is key in a production where there is little time to spare.

The fairy tale creatures belt out a tune. DREW PERLMUTTER/THE BATES STUDENT

As seamlessly as the cast has come together, they’ve still encountered a fair share of challenges, as to be expected. Tan says her biggest challenge has been with timing. She claims, “there are a lot of lines, blocking and choreography to learn, so having only three weeks to prepare the show has been a pretty hefty challenge.”

Along with Bates students, hundreds of local elementary school students will also be attending the performances because it is the Robinson Players’ annual “Stages for All Ages” production. However, it’s not just a children’s show. According to Tan, “The show is really funny! Even though it’s primarily for elementary school children, it is definitely appealing to an adult audience as well.”

As performance time draws closer, Scott says, “I’m incredibly excited for the performances and the writing of the musical does a wonderful job at bringing to life the wit and nostalgic joy that all the characters embody.” Be sure to go support the cast of Shrek in the last theater production of the year. All performances are hour-long matinees and will be held from May 17 through May 20 in Schaeffer Theatre.

 

Love and death in the city of smoke

A hazy Mexico City. ADAM MAUREY/COURTESY PHOTO

I am soon returning from temporary exile in Mexico City. The streets are merciless, the women even more so. The air on a good day would choke any greasy chain smoking trucker of a lobsterman of a Mainer. Making a ticket go away means getting rid of the cop. Street food breaks hearts and puts them back together again. The nights are filled with the haunting tunes of the passing tamaleros and the horrible screams of the high-pitched exhaust pipes of the wandering camoteros. Every black jeep with tinted windows has a license to kill, if they have a license at all. The volume of people makes ghosts of us all. This is a city where no one has a name, and if they did, it was at one point lost in the smoke, where existence melts away like the pain of lost love.

Days bleed into nights and into the next day. Weeks and months change depending only on the season. The heat, cigarettes and drugs leave one in a frenetic, suffocated haze. A northerner might wonder if it will end. Only in death or distraction. The streets are littered with business cards advertising local and foreign moving services. Late capitalism made vagabonds of us all, wandering the streets collecting roaches for the next joint.

The Aztecs believed that continuous sacrifice sustains the universe. A common sacrificial fate met in the Aztec empire was that of heart-extraction. Although ritual sacrifice no longer is common practice, ritual heart-extraction is. Just watch a telenovela. A common end to relationships in this city, of whatever sort, usually consists of a particularly violent form of heart removal and subsequent self-destruction. The luck of the Aztecs was that once the heart was removed, they could move on to the paradise in the east and become one with the rising sun. The problem of the pseudo-surgical heart-extraction of modernity is that we must continue living. The only sunrise we meet is three parts tequila.

The women in this city will give you everything and take it away just as quickly and painfully. Although my patently American brand of timidity might keep me from approaching the corporate lawyer in red on a liquored terrace of narcos, it would never keep her from having me buy her a drink. In this city you take what you want before it takes you. There are no questions and there can be no doubt. A moment’s hesitation can turn your night into a Frida Kahlo painting, laden with telenovelic misery, self-loathing and shame.

Making moves on women is commonly referred to with the infinitive form conquistar. Even in my state the connection isn’t hard to make. Cortes was reprimanded by his superiors for laying siege to what at one point was Aztec civilization—his job was to establish trade routes. He came and conquered. He knew what he wanted, so he took it before anyone else could get to it. It is often said that a good woman in this city vale un México, is worth a Mexico, and is therefore worth la conquista, assuming there are “good” women in this city. In this society every man must conquer blindly and without remorse, as did Cortez, with the hope that the woman, or country, will be worth it in the end.

A woman emptied the entirety of her husband’s worldly possessions into the street from the window of their third story apartment, as both he and I watched. I watched him, he watched her, she watched God. She tied his shoelaces together to make sure that she caught them in the electrical wires. She must be a really good woman, because he moved back in. All twelve pairs remain, out of reach, like open-winged birds about to do a nosedive.

The high priests tell us that as a language becomes a part of us, we will dream in it. My first dream in my new language happened two days ago. The logic was poetic. The extravagant tortas, sandwiches made and sold in the streets of Mexico City, are often named after famous stereotypes of beautiful women from around the world. In the National Immigration Institute´s offices, Cuban women are identified in the long lines of immigrants to Mexico for their voluptuous physique. Accordingly, the torta cubana is stacked with every kind of meat and cheese that won’t go bad after a few days in the sun. La Colombiana is similar, but without the grilled hot dogs and bacon.

From the menu I ordered a torta Mexicana, completo con pechuga, pierna, e ira. That is, piled high with leg, breast, and wrath.

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